The Paris subway is one of the oldest in the world and unique in its kind. French subwaybuilders, along with English, were the first pioneers, therefore in the intricate system of road development it is possible to see a lot of unusual design and engineering solutions. For more than a century of history, was built a couple of hundred kilometers of tunnels and about 300 stations in a Paris. Some of the stations, eventually, weren’t in demand and were subsequently closed for passengers. Every day the trains go without stopping past these phantom stations, and their only visitors are street artists and Urbex- photographers. You can get to the abandoned stations during the intervals between the trains or during the night bypass, by blending into the workers. So we did with the comrades. For convenience, I divided all the stations into sections.
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1. Croix-rouge (Red Cross)
One of the most famous closed stations of the Paris Subway. From 1923 to 1939, the Croix-Rouge station was the last station on the 10 line. However, after its extension, the use of the station turned out to be unprofitable – it was possible to distribute all passenger traffic between two neighboring ones, which the Paris authorities did. The station remains closed nowadays.
Location of the station on the trackmap. The full version can be downloaded from trackmap.ru.
Ironically, the name of the station is not connected with the International Committee of the Red Cross, but comes from the name of the square Carrefour de Croix-Rouge, which appeared in the 18th century. In 2005 was renamed into the Michel Debreu square.
The walls are full of mottled graffiti. To get unnoticed into the subway tunnel doesn’t present special difficulties, that is what street artists use.
Some drawings are more than 30 years old…
Empty box in the center of the station.
2. Saint Martin №1
The Saint-Martin station consists of 4 tracks at once and connects two lines with a cross-platform interchange. In fact, these are two independent stations, separated from each other by a wall. However, in order to get from one station to another, you will have to pass through the tunnel to the first connection on the other line – the pedestrian crossings between the platforms are closed by the grill. The Saint Martin station was used only for 9 years (from 1931 to 1939) and, like Croix-Rouge, it was closed at the beginning of the war. And although before the war the station was actively used by passengers, after the war ended, it was not opened again. The reason was the optimization of the traffic and the proximity to the two neighboring stations “Strasbourg – Saint-Denis” and “République” (the distance between the closest exits was only 100 meters).
Location of the stations on the scheme.
There are arched apertures between the two rail lines of the station.
Closed transfer to neighbour line.
A passing train on the next railway.
We’ll go to the second station – Saint Martin.
3. Saint Martin №2
Moving slightly from the station, through a small breakdown in the tunnel, we get into a short connecting tunnel. Less than 100 meters and we are on the other line …
Pay attention to the contact rail (bottom right). It’s without a cover. Throughout all the Paris subway. Therefore, running through the existing tunnels, you need to constantly be on the alert, which adds some adrenaline.
The Saint Martin station on the next line is distinguished by the interior from the neighbor – the travel walls here smoothly flow into the ceiling.
In 1990, the station was chosen by the Paris homeless. This forced the RATP service in 1999 to officially announce the station as an Espace Solidarité Insertion and provided to the Salvation Army for use.
The closed part of the platform.
Advertisiong of the 30s were preserved on the walls of the station.
The neighboring platform is completely open.
The portal into the tunnel.
View of both platforms from the tunnel.
Arsenal station was opened in 1906 and it has been working for 33 years. When in France in 1939 announced a general mobilization, the Resistance members used the station as an ammunition depot. After the liberation of Paris, the mayor’s office decided not to open the station because of the proximity of neighboring ones, because even during its operation, the flow of passengers here was small.
A significant part of the platform is fenced off from the paths.
The passing train.
5. Champ de Mars (The field of Mars)
The station was opened in 1913. At the beginning of World War II, the government implemented a plan to reduce the service in the metropolitan area. Only 85 stations remained open to passengers.After the end of the war, most of the stations were reopened, but some, like the Field of Mars, were found to be unprofitable, therefore, unprofitable, and remain abandoned to this day.
Location of the stations on the map.
Typical design of two platforms and an arch-shaped vault.
Closed exit from the station. Part of the staircase is converted into a ramp for transportation of technical equipment.
The opposite platform, unlike the first one, is half-closed by a grill. Behind it, in enclosed spaces, ventilation is buzzing.
The station has a rather “interesting” system of path development.
One railway at all rests against a dead end.
The reason for this is the appearance of the cross-platform transplantation at the La Motte-Picquet Grenelle station (see the scheme above).
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6. The Porte des Lilas – Cinema station
This station is also not accessible to passengers, but is used for night train layup, as well as filming of cinema and advertising. Hence its second name is “Cinema”. The Porte des Lilas station was opened in 1921 and operated as part of line 3 until 1935, after which it was added to line 11. In the late 1960s, it became necessary to build turnaround deadlocks and reorganize the 3bis line. To realize this project, a similar station was built nearby – an understudy station, and the original Porte des lilas was closed. About a walk to the station Porte des lilas, and the next Haxo, I’ll even tell a little story:
… The time was approaching midnight. On the penultimate train, we set off for the station to Porte des Lilas. By this time the platform was almost empty. On the benches peacefully slept Parisian homeless – they are here all night. Nobody pushes them out of the warm subway. Making sure that no one is looking at us, we jumped on the way and walked quickly towards the road fork. Having missed the last train, we dived into a single-track tunnel connecting the lines 3 – BIS and 7 – BIS.
After 200 meters, the “closed” station of Porte des Lilas appeared, on which the train stood at night.
Having passed the station, and after passing another 300 meters, we found ourselves in a spacious place for trains convention. The dead end on the right connects this tunnel with the circulating dead ends of the operating station Porte des Lilas on the line 3 – bis.
And this is what I described above on the scheme.
At the end, convention chamber was cut off, and the double-track tunnel turned into two single-track ones. To the right – towards Pré Saint-Gérvais station, to the left – to Place des Fêtes.
Since 1956, the second track isn’t used. However, to get there we didn’t succeed – the tunnel was completely blocked by a massive grate. So we went to the left, towards the station Place des Fêtes.
After 300 meters, behind the turn, appeared the abandoned multi-platform “Haxo”.
7. The Haxo Station
The Haxo station was constructed as an intermediate station on the connecting section between lines 3 – BIS and 7 – BIS, but was never used for its intended purpose. The project for connecting lines 3 and 7 (then they were not yet called 3-bis and 7-bis) between the stations of Port de Lilas and Pré Saint-Gervais was conceived as early as the beginning of the 20th century and was supported by the municipality to which it belonged railway network. The company of the Paris subway railways, exploiting the railways, opposed the project because of its low profitability. However, two single-track tunnels – the voie des Fêtes track from Place des Fêtes to Porte des Lilas with the intermediate station Haxo, and the “shuttle way” (voie navette) in the opposite direction without an intermediate station – were built. However, in operation it was decided to introduce only the “shuttle way”. The trains went on it from 1921 to 1939, but after the war it was decided not to resume the movement, by that time the 11th had already connected Place de Fêtes and Porte des Lilas. In 1952-56. The “shuttle way” became available for passengers for a while, albeit in a limited mode: here the first pneumatic rolling stock MP-51 and the automatic piloting system were tested. Often, passengers, especially children, were even allowed to sit in the driver’s cab and “drive” the train. Nevertheless, the segment was not introduced into regular commercial operation. As for the station of Haxo, it has never been put into operation and does not even have exits.
Currently, there is a project to merge the 3bis line with line 7 bis into a new line that will connect the Chateau-Landon and Gambetta 3 lines to the Chateau-Landon station. In this case, possibly, the station of Haxo will be completed and will open for passengers.
Continue our trip to the station Place des Fetes.
After 200 meters, for the next turn it seemed a trainset standing on the night pause.
Trains in the Paris subway are more narrower in dimensions than in the subways of the former USSR. There is my friend on the photo – it is for understanding the scale.
Having passed the standing train, we were on the next crotch. Somewhere in the distance we could see the station platform of the Place des Fêtes station… AND 2 WORKERS OF SECURITY SERVICE in black waistcoats, hurrying to our side !!!
There was no sense in running back – for sure, the second group is already on the Haxo side, so we decided to hide between the roof of the train and the tunnel arch. The distance is narrow, but it was still possible to squeeze through, in order to be inconspicuous from below.
The search lasted a long time, but in the end, they were crowned with success, and three diggers from Russia were taken to the station. Having made sure that we did not have paintballs with us, as well as intentions to paint the train, the RATP staff, rewriting the data, soon let us go. And at the station the homeless people continued to sleep in harmony… Bonus # 1: A two-level crotch between the Odéon and Cluny-La Sorbonne stations. In addition to the abandoned stations, I want to talk about other unusual places in the Paris subway. One of them is a huge one-vaulted tunnel with a two-level convention, built in 1925.
The scheme of the road development.
In the center of the huge tunnel there is a connecting path leading to a dead end, located at Odéon station.
The first 100 meters of the tunnel are somehow equipped with technical platforms on both sides.
View of the denouement from above.
Bonus # 2: Underground train washing.
In addition to the usual place for waiting and the maintenance of trains, in the Paris subway there are real washing places for trains, such as this one – next to the station Place d’Italie.
View on the scheme.
This section of tunnels was built in 1906.
Modern strengthening of the tunnel arch.
The passing train.
Reversal dead end.
Docking of lines 5 and 6.
Usual railway tracks are duplicated by railway tracks for trains on rubber wheels.
Perhaps the most popular foreshortening in the subway tunnels.
Bonus # 3: RER Châtelet les Hales
In the 60s, public transport in Paris was heavily congested, and suburban traffic was only carried out through railway stations. An excellent solution to this problem was the creation of a suburban communication system with short subway transplants. Huge tunnels for two-story trains, deep lying, great speed and … unequal traffic schedule. The last point creates some unpredictability for the urban researcher, because the intervals between trains are constantly changing…In comparison with the subway stations RER are more spacious; they are called “cathedral stations”, these are one of the largest underground railway stations in the world.
Cameras of congresses in RER look very large. The height of the tunnel can be up to 8 meters!
Depth varies from 0 to 60 meters. It is also one of the deepest underground objects in Paris.
Tunnels are built of concrete tubing.
Breakthrough between thee tonnels.
Almost all over the distance, there is a technical platform for evacuating passengers, in case of emergency.
Unlike the subway, it’s much longer to run to the RER from the shelter (jam) to the shelter, to the urban researcher. In addition, as I already mentioned above, the intervals vary greatly. Without calculating the strength between one of the dashes, we, in the end, were seen by the driver of one of the passing trains. After some time, the working light turned on in the tunnel, the intervals of movement increased greatly, and the trains moved very slowly (apparently looking for us). The likelihood of getting away unnoticed tended to zero … But suddenly the next door slammed in, and we were at the bottom of a deep ventilation shaft. All the following doors on the way, also easily succumbed, and soon we left the dungeon, left undetected and unharmed 🙂 This is the beauty of France’s fire regulations, which oblige to keep the exits open for evacuation (including Dig:D).
That’s all. As you can see, getting to the most places in underground Paris is not very difficult, but always remember the safety and precaution when crossing the contact rail (it is without a protective cover)! I hope this review was interesting and informative for you. Abandoned incline entrance to the station from the street.
This material originally posted by urbexer Samnamos and translated and corrected by our Urbex Tour Team.